Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Sunday 4th March


Barn Owl quartering over same territory as hunting male Kestrel – they must be hungry!

What a difference a day makes! Much milder this afternoon, most of the snow melted but fewer birds! I did mange to find three different Woodcock in Felbrigg, a single Snipe, a few Fieldfare, a nice male Kestrel eating a prey item and, in close proximity, a Barn Owl.

Male Kestrel with prey item


I just can’t seem to find Woodcock on the deck – this one had reached Common Plantation before I managed to get a shot off




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Saturday 3rd March


Lapwing in the snow – Aylmerton Common

Took my first walk around the patch since the visitation from The Beast from the East this afternoon. Still a lot of snow on the ground and most of the lake and water meadows remain frozen. Down the lane the usual roving tit flock, a female Bullfinch and a rather bedraggled Fieldfare by Sawmill Cottage. Wildfowl numbers on the lake are down, particularly Tufted Duck – I could only see one pair. Gadwall, Teal and Mallard numbers are as per pre-freeze counts and there were six Mute Swan – the adults occupying the lake, with four youngsters on the water meadows. As I walked through the rough grazing meadow below the dam I flushed three Common Snipe and a couple of Jack Snipe. I got within four feet of one before it flushed from underneath me. They both dropped into the Scarrow Beck stream-bed and, despite several circuits, remained hidden from view. I had two Woodcock – one in Common Plantation, the other along the western shelter-belt. All three ‘Snipe-type’ species within twenty minutes – not bad! On the way home I took a detour across Aylmerton Common and through Mallett’s Meadows. There were a total of 14 Snipe, four Woodcock, 27 Teal and two Meadow Pipit. There were small numbers of Lapwing in the Park, on the Common and in Mallett’s Meadows – nice to see against the snow-covered background.

Common & Jack Snipe – rough grazing meadow


A bedraggled Fieldfare along The Street


Three of four young Mute Swan on the water meadows


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Saturday 24th February


You ain’t seen me… right!

It was third time lucky for me in the Glaven Valley this afternoon, as the regularly reported Bittern appeared from down stream and gradually made it’s way to relatively open water, just north of Natural Surroundings. It’s not uncommon to see Bittern in winter – they are often more obliging than breeding birds. This individual is particularly showy.

Some more shots of this obliging Bittern in the Glaven Valley



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Friday 23rd February


Record shot of this mornings Hawfinch – in my haste I forgot to check the camera settings!

I was stood looking out of my kitchen window this morning when I spotted an unfamiliar shape in the trees behind my neighbours garden. I reached for my binoculars and I was delighted to see a Hawfinch  – déjà vu from last winter! It looked like a female and is possibly the same bird that has been in Felbrigg up until about a week ago.

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Thursday 22nd February


Siskin, taken on a previous occasion – not one of the 150+ yesterday, at Hanworth

Our day at Cley NWT was brought to a premature end on Monday by persistent mizzle and thickening fog in the afternoon, rendering birdwatching virtually impossible. Tuesday it rained here all day, so I spent the time looking through thousands of photos for additional images to illustrate our forthcoming Birds of Felbrigg. It’s looking pretty reasonable now, with species accounts of the 220 birds recorded in the Park and immediate area, plenty of photos and illustrations from a variety of sources, an introduction to the habitat management work of the National Trust and a Forword by their Director General! We have to get it to the printers by the end of the month to be available for Easter. Yesterday it was the NENBC mid-week walk, which included a short diversion to Sustead Common, to show members the site and the work Felbeck Trust has been doing there. In the afternoon, on the way back through Hanworth Common, I spotted a ‘swarm’ of small birds in the Alders, just as you leave the village. I thought, given the numbers, that they must be Goldfinch but looking through the binoculars they were clearly Siskin. There must have been 150 – probably more!

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Sunday 18th February


The scene at Sustead Common yesterday, during the live broadcast on Radio Norfolk

It was the Felbeck Trust / NENBC National Nest-box event yesterday at Sustead Common. The day started with a live broadcast on Radio Norfolk and after a cold and foggy start the weather was sunny with clear blue skies throughout. We had a steady stream of visitors, managed to exceed our target by constructing and erecting over 60 boxes in Spurrell’s Wood and raised £670 for our appeal. Not a bad effort – my thanks go to all those who supported the event in any way. Although we were otherwise occupied throughout the day we did managed to get great views of a Woodcock, in the glow of the late afternoon sun – flushed when we went to instal one of the last few boxes!

The nest-box production-line, taken during a much-earned tea-break


It’s not too late to sponsor a nest-box for £20 – just email enquiry@felbecktrust.org.uk